Agenda item

Stable Homes Built on Love.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Children and Family Services which provided an overview of the Government’s strategy for Children’s Social Care Reform – Stable Homes, Built on Love, published on 2 February 2023 for consultation. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 9’ is filed with these minutes.


In response to question regarding the impact of statutory changes to children’s social care, the Director explained that the Department had actively fed into recommendations and hoped to be part of national work to understand how the changes would impact children and families. The Service would continue to highlight the challenges within the social work workforce.


Concern was raised regarding the level of funding available to deliver the proposed changes to children’s social care, the Director explained that it was not yet clear what funding would be available for the Council to deliver the proposed changes. Initially, funding would be given to pilot organisations. The Service was concerned about funding due to the Council’s financial position, but this would need to be balanced against delivering the correct support for children and families. Members noted that much of the proposed changes would require additional funding.


Arising from discussion, the following points were raised:


      i.         The Department offered a flexible route into kinship caring and provided a lifelong package of training and support to kinship carers. Within the model, when a child could not remain with their parents, wider family and friends could provide an alternative to becoming looked after. Members noted that kinship caring could pose a challenge to local authorities as they would be responsible for providing funding, even in circumstances where the placement had not been arranged by the local authority.


     ii.         The Service had been part of regional work in utilising alternatively qualified staff to support looked after children. A qualified social worker had continued to undertake the assessments and have robust oversight of the package of care, but the skills and experience of alternatively qualified staff had been useful in providing ongoing support. Positive feedback on the new model had been received from families and partners. The Service would await clarification as to whether the Government would make changes to the robustness around social work oversight and hoped to contribute to this work.


    iii.         Local Authorities could bid to become one of twelve Families First for Children Pathfinders and it was anticipated that the successful authorities would be a mix of top tier, district and unitary authorities, as well as authorities with different Ofsted gradings. The pathfinders would be closely monitored by Department for Education (DfE) and the Service would work DfE to influence the development of the programme. The Department would consider whether it should apply to be a pathfinder but would need to understand the criteria and determine whether it would be an appropriate decision for the Service and its service users.


   iv.         No proposals have been shared with the Department to indicate that existing legislation would be changed. It was anticipated that the proposed changes would sit alongside existing legislation.


     v.         Multiagency work to support the needs of care leavers would continue to be challenging, but the Service would work closely with partners to ensure that they understood and committed to their collective responsibilities as corporate parents. All partners would be required to consider how this review would affect the provision of their services. District councils understood their corporate parenting responsibilities, especially regarding housing and worked well with the service to deliver for care leavers.


     vi.            The proposed reforms set out a wider range of support for children with mental health. Members were assured that the Service had a wide range of mental health support available to children, such as Emotional Health and Wellbeing support in schools, a Teen Health 11-19 service, and targeted support for children in care and care leavers and youth justice cohorts. The Department continued to work closely with colleagues in Leicestershire Partnership Trust, who provided services for those children with acute needs, and regularly reviewed interventions.


  vii.         The Children’s Social Care Reform strategy had set out that any inspection of children’s social care would need to be right for children and suggested that assessments would need to be better for children. The Service had robust assessments in place to understand children’s needs and would ensure that when it is inspected, the inspection report would be reviewed to ensure that the right work is being done for children.


 viii.         Opportunities had been identified for improvements in the use of data and technology within social care. Technology was used to understand performance within social care and to share with partners regarding safeguarding and risk management. Predictive tools were available to identify vulnerable children so that early intervention could be delivered as soon as possible. However, members were assured that social work assessments would always be most the robust element of the assessment process.


      ix.            The report would be shared with safeguarding partners, and it was suggested that an engagement process with district councils, regarding the consultation and strategy feedback, be considered.


The Lead Member for Children and Family Services highlighted the financial challenges being faced by the Council and encouraged the Government to prioritise the financial position which local authorities continued to face.




That the overview of the Government’s strategy for Children’s Social Care Reform – Stable Homes, Built on Love, published on 2 February 2023, for consultation, be noted.


Supporting documents: